The Mumbai Police informed the Bombay High Court on Thursday that it had identified four officials of Juhu police station, who allegedly assaulted Raju Velu Devendra (22), a labourer, on March 29 while enforcing the lockdown and also proposed a departmental inquiry against them.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Anuj Prabhudesai was hearing a PIL filed last month by advocate Firdause Irani through advocate Bahraiz Irani, seeking urgent intervention in view of the alleged police brutality.
Citing a human rights organisation report, Irani had alleged that instances of police brutality had led to 15 deaths, two of which took place in Mumbai. Shagir Jamil Khan, a porter, and Raju Velu Devendra died after being allegedly assaulted by south Mumbai and Juhu police station officers, respectively.
On June 30, the HC had asked the police to file reports into the incidents of alleged excesses. The reports were filed during the next hearing.
On July 17, court asked the police to file a status report into the investigations, which it submitted on Thursday.
The police’s response came after the HC, expressing displeasure over the delay in probe into Devendra’s case, on Thursday directed the police to produce the progress report of the investigation and disclose its decision regarding conducting an inquiry against the officers.
Relatives of Devendra had alleged that he was beaten to death by police personnel in Nehru Nagar of Vile Parle (West). The police, however, had initially claimed that Devendra died after he was lynched by a mob who suspected him of committing a robbery.
During the earlier hearings, denying allegations of excesses, the police had filed two affidavits. A status report was also filed, in which four policemen were identified, who allegedly assaulted Devendra. The report added that police proposed to conduct departmental proceedings against them.
Government pleader Purnima H Kantharia, appearing for the state, on Thursday told the HC that she had viewed CCTV footage and did not find any instance of mob assaulting Devendra. However, whether he succumbed to injuries inflicted by assault by fiber lathis (used by police) is a matter that needs further investigation, she added.
“It is indeed distressing to note that from April 18, 2020 till July 10, 2020, no investigation was embarked upon by the assistant commissioner of police,” the HC observed.
After perusing ACP’s assurance that he would conduct a fair and complete investigation expeditiously, the HC directed the officer to proceed with the probe and file a further progress report while disclosing the decision taken on the proposal to initiate departmental proceedings against the officers.
The court, while saying that it will pass further orders after examining the progress report to be submitted before August 5, posted the next hearing for August 6.
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